Fastballs and Fast Times with Tyson Perez
Professional baseball player Tyson Perez swaps his fastball for swinging a rope in the offseason.

Tyson Perez, 30, grew up in California’s Central Valley in the care of some pretty ropey parents—Frank and Sandy Perez.

“I grew up with a rope in my hand. That was the first thing I did, before I played any sports. When I was just walking, I could swing a rope and rope the dummy, ride the horses. I had a little pony.”

His whole life, roping has been a family affair.

Sandy Perez gets it done for her son, Tyson, for a money-earning fast time at the 2017 Ariat World Series Finale. Jennings Photography

“It’s my whole family. My sister does, and my cousin—she lives there on the property with my parents and she ropes, too, so sometimes it’s a family gathering. We’ve got to take two rigs to a jackpot just to make sure we’ve got enough horses for everybody to rope. But, I wouldn’t have it any other way. To be able to rope with my mom and dad and my little sister and people that I grew with, it’s just special to me.”

In high school, Perez became a three-sport athlete and, despite his love of football and basketball, discovered his real talent on the pitcher’s mound.

“As I got older, and I had a chance to play in college, that’s when I realized I had a chance to do something special and I ended up getting drafted and having a chance to have a professional career.”

In fact, Perez was drafted by the Houston Astros right out of college in 2011, and he played within the organization, including for its then Triple-A team, the Fresno Grizzlies, just around the corner from Hanford, where was raised.

For a time, his professional career kept him from roping, but the 5.5/6 switch ender rediscovered the sport in 2015.

“The next time I roped again was in 2015, when I got a little taste of the World Series roping they have at the South Point. That’s when I got the itch back again. There was a bunch of different rope styles and stuff, and it was like getting back into it for the first time, even though I already knew what to do.”

The excitement of the Ariat World Series Finale also got to Perez, who, maybe after years of playing in various sports stadiums, is simply tuned to get pumped up by a crowd in the stands. And luckily, he’s now playing for a baseball team that caters to a whole new level of fan.

Courtesy Fresno Grizzlies

“I actually played in Mexico last year, which was kind of crazy. I won’t lie, I went because you can make money down there, but I ended up having the best season ever. It was a total surprise. I played with a lot of guys that played in the big leagues for a long time, a lot of guys better than me. I’m really happy that I went down there to play, and I’ll go as long as they’ll have me.

“I live in San Diego and then I cross the border into Tijuana to play. One of the reasons why it was such a fun season is I got to live on the beach and then I got to go play a game that I love in an environment that I had never seen in my life—it was like [having] soccer fans, but they’re going for a baseball game. Crowds pack the stadium every night. Music is playing the whole time. The crowd’s into the game. It’s the most competitive baseball I’ve ever seen. I didn’t know what I was getting into. It was a blast.”

Similarly, Perez’s favorite roping moment also hinges on a hyped-up, competitive scenario.

“In 2017, it was my second time going to the South Point, and my mom and I won the Consolation for the #10. It’s one of the highlights of my roping career. I messed up on one of the steers in the big arena, so we had to go to the Consolation and be as fast as we could. I wouldn’t say that being fast is a weakness for my mom, but I would say being consistent and having good horses is her strength. So, watching her go at it and be as fast as she could be was really awesome.”

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